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After missing DACA, she resented her US-born siblings. Trump ruined her second chance

Cindy Carcamo and Molly O'Toole, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- Beatriz Basurto's father is quick to point out that she -- the 19-year-old middle child -- is the most responsible of his six children.

She's the one with a well-paying job as a Mixtec interpreter for farmworkers in Oxnard while attending college full time. She's the one who picks up the tab when they go out for lunch and shoves $20 into his pocket because she figures he could use it more than she can.

But she's also the one with perhaps the most uncertain future and greatest disadvantage of all the siblings.

Three years ago, Basurto missed her chance to apply for immigration relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA. The Obama-era program allows immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and are currently without legal status the opportunity to live and work legally in the U.S.

Basurto's youngest brother and sister are U.S.-born citizens. Her older brother and sister, born in Mexico, like her, managed to obtain DACA before Trump began to unwind the program in 2017. Basurto, then 16, was about to apply -- and suddenly, DACA was done.

At the time, Basurto confided in her father in their native Mixtec, the indigenous language spoken in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero. "It's too bad I wasn't born here, Papa."


"There's nothing we can do about that," he replied. "Don't give up."

Basurto is among tens of thousands of immigrant youth whom the Trump administration has effectively kept out of DACA, radically changing the trajectory of their lives. Their lack of DACA status has altered relationships, bred resentment and sparked awkward silences between family members who have legal status and those who don't.

It has led to heightened pressure to excel and guilt among those who were bolstered by the program. It's even prompted children to question the decisions their parents made long ago to migrate to the U.S.

In June, Basurto thought she had been given a second chance when the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner in its attempt to shut down DACA. The decision cleared the path to accepting new applications from a previously excluded group of more than 65,000 children now eligible to apply for DACA for the first time, according to the Migration Policy Institute -- a nonpartisan D.C.-based immigration think tank.


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